The benefits of using macros in MS Project

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Have you ever wanted to fine tune your MS Project File by adding a few extras to make life simpler and impress your client at the same time?  If so, may I suggest using macros?

Implementing macros will create the following desirable results:

Reduce the Number of Errors:  By automating a task, you can reduce the number of errors that we humans tend to make on an on-going basis.  For example, say you create a backup of a project file every week.  You can automate this process to the extent of having the backup created and named properly every time.  Have you ever attempted to locate a project file, unsuccessfully, only to find that someone had accidentally placed a space prior to the file extension?  This is not an easy error to find.  By automating the backup process, you can be sure the file is named properly every time.  This leads to another benefit of using macros in MS Project.

Increased speed in which a task is completed:  As we all know, software can think and act quicker than humans.  By automating a task, especially a monotonous task like creating backups of 25 MS Project files every day, you can increase the speed of the task.  Imagine opening up a Master Project File with 25 inserted projects.  Next, imagine clicking on one button and having all 25 project files copied, renamed, dated and saved to their individual backup folders all on their own!  This is glorious!  Not only does it simplify your life, it creates an open window of time to do what is most important in our jobs…Project Management!

More Time to Put Out Fires:  Who has more time than they need these days to get their work done?  If you answered yes, then you better be looking for another project to incorporate into your free work time.  By automating many features and tasks within your MS Project File, you can begin clicking away at buttons and having the macro do the work for you while you can focus on more important tasks.  If you would like to have more time in your day, create a macro and have the macro do the work for you. Some of the macros we have created have saved us hours and hours worth of work.  This has enabled us to have time for more important issues such as follow up with the Project Team, putting out fires, creating fires, and…you get the point!

Consistency in Formatting:  Have you ever experienced having 25 schedules inserted into a Master Project, with inconsistent field names?  Talk about frustrating!  Wouldn’t it be fantastic to have a template with all the same field names, table names, column names and record names?  By creating a macro to automate your views, you can be sure you are giving your client the same view of the information every time.  Consistency is of the utmost importance in deliverables.

Now, How Did I Do That Last Time?  Another great benefit of using macros within your MS Project File is that the macro recalls each step of the task.  This is helpful when a client wants a custom report or view.  Instead of having to refer to a document of how to create the custom view, you can click a button and bam–your view pops up!

Documentation:  Remember to document how you manually created the macro.  I recommend keeping a documentation binder with a tab labeled “macros” to easily find the manual directions for the automated task the macro has defined.  If you should ever need to re-create the macro, you will know exactly how to do so.

Quality Control:  Check your macros periodically to verify they are working correctly.  Place them in a test environment and run the macro, checking that you are getting the anticipated end result.

Appearance:  Last, but not least, make the appearance of your macro buttons easy to view, read and understand.  For example. If you wanted to filter on red apples only in a file that had green, yellow and red apples, I would suggest having your macro button be a small picture of a red apple.  This draws the mind quickly to the red apple view.  Add distinct colors and short labels to your macro buttons.  Clients appreciate short, simple and sweet.

Posted By: Mindy Ogles 

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